Speech & Language, Therapy Activities, Therapy Tools, Tips and Tricks

Can your child with Down syndrome “hear” speech errors?

Can your child tell you if a sound is made correctly or incorrectly? If you say “cat” and “tat” are they able to distinguish which one is the animal – cat?

This ability to distinguish speech sound errors is very important for improving the child’s articulation. It allows the speech pathologist to teach  self-monitoring of speech and self-correction of errors.

One tool I use to help the child “hear” sound errors  is a piece of PVC pipe. Yes, pipe. I bought it at Home Depot 8 years ago for less than $2. I use it to help older children with Down syndrome hear themselves once the sound we’ve been working on emerges. How do you know if the sound has emerged? This is the time the child can say the word in imitation and occasionally in speech, but it’s not consistently correct.

Another product you can use for this purpose is the Toobaloo. It works equally well but is slightly more expensive ($5). (One day I will be “Queen of the Cheap and Effective Therapy Tools” and this post will prove to be my crowning glory. ) The price difference is negligible, but still you are still saving with the PVC pipe.

The Toobaloo is every bit as effective, only lighter.  It’s available for about $5 plus shipping and it will be mailed to you. And let’s face it, time is money. I bought my PVC as a younger, kid-free therapist. For home use it is sturdy – I’ve had one split from the repeated sterilization chemicals used between patients. (On an interesting note – it was created by a grandmother of a child with Down syndrome.)

Providing slight amplification using a PVC pipe or Toobaloo  encourages vocalization, practice speech sounds or reading, and/or monitor fluency. So head on down to the local hardware store and start talking into the pipes – don’t worry once you tell them what it’s for they won’t think you’re [too] crazy. Or sit back and order a Toobaloo. Both are inexpensive and effective tools for practicing speech at home.